GM/Opel Developing Volt Plug-in Hybrid Van

Remember when vans were cool? I don’t, but my father likes to regale me of tales when big vans with wild paintings adorning the side were all the rage. These days it seems most vans are used for delivery or contractor work, especially over in Europe. They never got the memo that the van craze is over.

GM’s European branch Opel has developed a hybrid-electric van concept based on the Voltec engineering underpinning the Chevy Volt. Called the Vivaro e-Concept, it is definitely designed for European tastes. So could it come to America?

Many, many small businesses use cargo vans as delivery vehicles. Contractors also use vans, as opposed to pickups, should they live in a particularly rainy (or criminal) area. Some people just prefer vans. With the Chevy Volt hitting showrooms in the next few weeks, people are going to start clamoring for the next application of the Volt’s technology, sink or swim. I don’t think anybody was expecting a van… and yet it makes sense.

Fleet sales make up a large margin of GM’s sales. Vans are crazy popular in Europe, so launching it over there through Opel and gauging interest makes sense. GM also knows that Ford is developing an all-electric Transit Connect van. The Transit Connect is a perennial favorite across the pond, and GM probably wants a slice of that pie. The Vivaro e-Power, which is just a concept, would certainly give the electric Transit Connect a run for its money.

Supposedly, it can travel 60 miles on electric power alone. That would cover a lot of ground for many small businesses. After that, a range extender would keep it going for another 190 miles, for a total range of 250 miles. It is clearly designed for local businesses moreso than those driving long hauls.

Here’s the thing. There are no prototypes, no plans to build it, and certainly no plans to bring it to the U.S. This is a concept car, built to gauge interest. So let me ask you, are you interested in the Volt-van?

You can check out the full press release on the next page.

Source: GM

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.